Skip to main content

Security and transparency

01/21/2014 02:43PM, Published by ACL, Categories: In Print, Opinion



By Congressman Joe Pitts

Shortly before Christmas, during the midst of the busy shopping season, hackers stole 40 million credit card numbers from Target. The same hack yielded 70 million records for customers’ phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and home addresses. High-end department store chain Neiman Marcus got hit by a similar attack. Some of their customers reported fraudulent charges on their cards.

Identity theft is a huge and growing problem. According to the Department of Justice, more than 16 million Americans were hit with identity theft in 2012. Financial losses totaled more than $24 billion in that year. 

The vast majority of victims find out that their identity has been compromised because a financial institution has informed them. If a consumer doesn’t get informed promptly, the damage can be significant. Half of people who took more than six months to get their identity theft cleared up reported facing severe emotional distress. 

Perhaps the worst part of identity theft is that the victim usually wasn’t doing anything risky. In 2014, almost everyone uses a debt or credit card at the cash register. 

This year, Americans are for the first time required by law to have health insurance. To meet the requirements of Obamacare, that has to be a government-approved plan. Whether you sign up for a plan through a navigator, or on the phone, or by paper, the application is entered onto the website. Tens of millions of Americans, even if they didn’t buy a plan, submitted personal information to Healthcare.gov and other state sites.

With all these problems, there are tremendous concerns that the sites lack proper security controls. Shortly before the website went live, one federal official refused to sign the security statement believing that there was a great risk of endangering personal information.

Even systems thought to be secure face new and exotic attacks. A relatively new system full of glitches and sloppy fixes is even more at risk. At the beginning of the year, I introduced legislation to require the government to alert individuals if their personal information has been stolen or inadvertently disclosed. Whenever there is a breach, the Department of Health and Human Services would have two business days to alert consumers. 

This bill passed the House with overwhelming support from both Republicans and Democrats. With 291 yes votes, the bill had a veto-proof majority. 

The House followed this up the next week by passing a bill introduced by my colleague Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) that would require the government to give weekly reports of basic information about the website. This would include information on problems and glitches facing website users. This bill also passed with 33 Democrats supporting it.

The American people have a right to know what is going on with Healthcare.gov and other exchange websites. Security and transparency have to be priorities when personal information is being stored in government databases.


Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Chester County's free newsletter to catch every headline



congress congressman joe pitts obamacare congressman pitts security fraud identity theft


You might also like

The Other Teddy Roosevelt

Congressman Joe Pitts for the week of June 11, 2014.

Why I still have faith in Congress

Lee H. Hamilton for the week of June 4, 2014.

Boosting manufacturing

Congressman Joe Pitts for the week of May 28, 2014.

It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

  • Terrific Trilliums

    04/30/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Explore the enchanting world of trilliums. Join us for an informative presentation and a magical ...


  • Native Plants for Native Pollinators

    04/30/2015
    07:00pm — 09:00pm

    Join us at Newlin Grist Mill to learn about a wide range of native plants flowering from late spr...


It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

  • Fairville Fun Fair

    05/02/2015
    11:00am — 03:00pm

    Join us for a day of fun with your young children—pony rides, treasure hunts, moon bounce, cookie...


  • WHITE CANE DAY

    05/02/2015
    08:00am — 12:00pm

    MEMBERS OF THE OXFORD LIONS CLUB WILL ACCEPT CONTRIBUTIONS ON WHITE CANE DAY. SATURDAY MAY 2...


  • WHITE CANE DAY

    05/02/2015
    08:00am — 12:00pm

    MEMBERS OF THE OXFORD LIONS CLUB WILL ACCEPT CONTRIBUTIONS ON WHITE CANE DAY. SATURDAY MAY 2...


  • Famous Chicken BBQ

    05/09/2015
    01:30pm — 04:30pm

    Landenberg Church Chicken BBQ Sat. May 9, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Dinner: half chicken, baked potato...


  • Famous Chicken BBQ

    05/09/2015
    01:30pm — 04:30pm

    Landenberg Church Chicken BBQ Sat. May 9, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Dinner: half chicken, baked potato...


  • Famous Chicken BBQ

    05/09/2015
    01:30pm — 04:30pm

    Landenberg Church Chicken BBQ Sat. May 9, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Dinner: half chicken, baked potato...


Chester County High School Sports